How Technology Could Help Rural South Africa Turn Sunshine Into Income
By Thomas Wolfgang Thurner
The way energy is produced and distributed is changing rapidly as the industry moves away from carbon-based energy production. Technological development in the production of alternative energy has also speeded up the emergence of decentralised systems. These build on large numbers of actors who generate small quantities of energy.
But for a decentralised system to be sustainable, a flexible grid is required to accommodate variable renewable energy sources. A flexible grid also enables operators of the electricity system to balance demand and supply.
A decentralised energy system also requires an exchange mechanism to link buyers and sellers. In South Africa, the state utility Eskom currently fulfils this role. It effectively acts as a central clearing house. It does this by buying electricity from renewable power projects, adding it to its own generated energy and selling it to consumers.
Photo courtesy of John Hogg.